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Extending Our Reach


By Carolina Scipioni

Endowment & Planned Giving Program Manager, Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County

On February 9th we gathered at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish for our first ever Estate Planning & Legacy Giving Seminar in Spanish. 

Since we started planning these seminars last year, we knew that we wanted to expand our outreach to our ever-growing Catholic Spanish-speaking community. After a year of learning and practice, we felt ready to start. However, as expected every time that you attempt something new, we had a lot of fear and anxiety about what would happen. Would we get the materials translated in time? Would we find an estate planning attorney to present in Spanish? Would people show up?

Luckily, we had the enthusiastic support of Father Walter Suarez and his parish staff. They had not only done a phenomenal job promoting the event, they also personally invited all the different parish groups. Their efforts showed. Despite the heavy rain and gusty winds of that Friday evening, 115 parishioners attended the event to learn about family estate planning and to reflect about leaving a legacy for our community of faith.

Any of the anxiety that I had felt before the event was replaced by peace and joy as soon as the parish youth group, “Jóvenes para Cristo” started playing their music and singing. What an experience! I felt welcomed into the community and knew that it was going to be a great evening. 

Father Walter began the event by leading us in prayer and sharing his biblical perspective on estate planning. “During our lives,” he began, “each one of us is called to be a good administrator of what God has entrusted to us. And part of being a good administrator, a good steward, is to plan for what will happen to our resources once we join our Father in heaven.”

He shared a personal story to illustrate, in a light-hearted way, that none of us like to think about dying but that gathering end-of-life documents and making decisions early on is important for all of us. “As Catholics”, he added, “we want our legacies to be intentional and we can’t really leave legacies that matter without discerning what we want to leave behind when we leave this world.” 

Following this wonderful introduction, Jennifer Ramirez, an Estate Planning Attorney who partners with the Catholic Community Foundation, presented the basics of Estate Planning and walked us through different scenarios from dying without an estate plan, with a Will and with a Living Trust. She explained how each of these scenarios have not only financial implications, but more importantly they present different degrees of emotional burden for the families that we leave behind. 

After Jennifer’s presentation, I had the privilege to help the audience reflect on the Catholic legacies that we as good stewards want to leave for our faith communities. As others who came before us have done, we intrinsically want to help build and preserve the faith for future generations. I discussed ways that some people are choosing to do this through a bequest in their will or trust, or through choosing a beneficiary designation in a retirement plan, life insurance policy or a bank account. 

At the end of the event, parishioner Jose Orozco shared with us his gratitude: “I found this information extremely valuable. I had a general idea of what the seminar was going to be about, but I didn’t realize there were so many things to consider and plan for. I didn’t even know that we could provide for our Parish in our estate plans. It never occurred to me.” 

We at the Catholic Foundation are grateful for this opportunity to bring valuable information and present this stewardship message to our communities in the Diocese of San Jose. We look forward to the next time!

If you would like your parish to host one of these events in English or Spanish, please contact Carolina Scipioni at (408) 995-5219 or scipioni@cfoscc.org.